Molecular Signaling and Cell Death

Cell death is a crucial process in development, homeostasis and (patho)physiology. In normal conditions about 100 billion cell die mostly by apoptosis. 

Research areas

Human diseases Immunology & inflammation

Model organisms

Research Focus

Cell death is a crucial process in development, homeostasis and (patho)physiology. In normal conditions about 100 billion cell die mostly by apoptosis. However, many diseased conditions are associated with a deregulated balance in cell death. Too much or too sensitive cell death is associated with inflammatory and degenerative diseases, while too little or too insensitive cell death is associated with development of cancer and with therapeutic resistance. This implies that depending on the particular role of cell death in a given disease therapeutic strategies could be envisioned that either sensitize or desensitize cell death pathway. However, in order to do so, a profound knowledge is required not only of cell death pathway but also on the molecular mechanism that regulate these cell death pathways.



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Vandenabeele Lab news

Scientists shed new light on infection process of the gastrointestinal pathogen C. difficile


Scientists from the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research identified the mechanisms by which the bacterial pathogen Clostridium difficile kills intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), thus destroying the protective mucosal barrier of the intestinal tract. The researchers demonstrate the physiological relevance of this process during infection and have published their findings in Nature Communications.

New weapon against chemotherapy-resistant cancer cells discovered


​Neuroblastoma, one of the most common aggressive forms of cancer in many young children, exhibits an increased resistance to the current generation of chemotherapy. To be able to treat these sorts of tumors, a new type of therapy is required. Research from VIB, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp, led by the brothers Tom and Wim Vanden Berghe, has led to the discovery of a new molecular mechanism that can kill cancer cells in mice. Withaferin A, an active substance from a medicinal plant extract (Ashwagandha) from traditional medicine in India, plays an important role in this. These insights were published in the prestigious scientific journal, ‘Journal of Clinical Investigation’.